Meet Michelle, a young recovering alcoholic who is finding her best life in recovery. She is a true example of the power of 12 step programs and knows first hand how important it is to stick to recovery after losing a close friend to addiction. Here is her story.
"My name is Michelle, and I’ve been sober since May 11th, 2019. I first started drinking around 14, always in social settings, at parties, bonfires, bars, clubs, anywhere I could buy alcohol really. I always said in my head that if I was with other people, then it was acceptable to drink and for me, there was no one drink. There was no one glass of wine, one cocktail at dinner, or one drink at a party. I always drank to get drunk. I didn’t know why I felt like I always needed to be drunk but I just knew that in any situation where I would be around people and not want to be awkward and fit in, that drinking and getting drunk (and fast) was the answer.
For years I felt like whenever I was around people I had to drink, this started off with parties on Fridays and Saturdays but when Sunday rolled around I felt like absolute garbage, emotionally, physically and mentally. Alcohol always made me feel like I was the life of the party, and game for anything. Why wouldn’t I wanna feel that way on Sunday too? Again I told myself that as long as I drank with other people, even if they weren’t drinking, even if I was just hanging out with other people that it was acceptable for me to drink. Just as my Friday and Saturday nights turned into Sundays, those drunken Sundays turned into drunken Mondays and before I knew it I was sneaking in alcohol with me everywhere you name it. That water bottle in my school gym locker? Alcohol. The big “coffee” I brought with me to work? Alcohol. I told myself it was okay because it helped me feel like I was ready to conquer the day and I thought that if I was more relaxed and was the party girl everyone would like me.
I knew about 12 step programs because my mother is a recovering alcoholic, with over three years of sobriety, but I never thought I was an alcoholic. I always told myself, and anyone who questioned my drinking that I was just a party girl and I was “living my best life.” Which is ironic because I was just in one big downwards spiral. I always pictured an alcoholic as a 50-60-year-old man drinking the days away with whisky and beer. I was 21, and my drink of choice was vodka so obviously I couldn’t be an alcoholic. I made excuses like, "I am too young to be an alcoholic." and that "Everyone my age drinks.".
It wasn’t until I hit my rock bottom that I realized how broken I really was. I had friends leave me because I embarrassed them at any and all social gatherings, yelled at them, betrayed them, lied to them and even got violent on a few occasions. I was in trouble at work and people were starting to notice that the facade I put on of “having my shit together” was just one big lie. To save a friendship I started attending 12 step meetings, not for me, but for her. I didn’t listen to anyone, I didn’t connect, I didn’t want a sponsor and I made excuses for why it was okay for me to drink as much as I did. I remember thinking of all the trauma I had in my life from being sexually assaulted, to being in a physically abusive relationship to losing my best friend to addiction. I told myself it was OKAY to drink because of those things that had happened to me so I went back out after almost three months of white-knuckling it.
I came back with my tail between my legs, got down on my knees and begged for help. I actually listened to people’s shares, found an amazing group of people who love me for me and not for the person I pretended to be when I was drunk. I thought this life of sobriety would quite honestly suck. I spent way too much time thinking about the fact that I can’t drink ever again, which can still stress me out, but now I just have to remember that all I have to do is get through today. 24 hours. That’s it. And let me tell you, the things that I’ve done in sobriety are things I never could have dreamed of. I bought my first car, I have so many TRUE friends that care about me, and love me for ME, I have a successful career and I’m more close with my family and friends than ever.
One thing I’ll always remember is something I heard at the first meeting I went to coming back from my relapse. Your feelings won’t kill you, but what you do with them can. Reach out for help, keep coming back and pray."